Located at the oceanfront, Jungle Golf's aptly named mini-golf course pits putters against a slew of jungle-themed obstacles. As golfers traverse the 18-hole labyrinth, they must contend with breaking putts, keep their distance from the silverback gorilla statue guarding the second hole, stay dry underneath the misting waters of the fifth hole's rocky waterfall, and bribe a life-sized zebra statue to neigh during their opponent’s backswing. In-between rounds, golfers can refuel with treats from the Food Hut or head to the game room for more shrinked-down activities, such as air hockey, skee-ball, and crane-games' simulations of loading 2-ton plush rabbits onto freighter ships.
Anchored by a trio of experienced aces—including PGA-certified director of instruction Ed Collins and owner Dave Williams—Hampton Roads Golf Academy travels to courses throughout the greater Hampton Roads area to spread the pastime of golf. The pros wake each morning to the sound of humming lawnmowers and giggling 9-irons to keep alive their golf enthusiasm, which they impart in private, group, and on-course lessons. The academy’s V1 video analysis software helps instructors shed light on the murky abyss of pupils’ swings, playing back each shot in slow motion to pinpoint the root cause of each unsightly slice and snap hook. Hampton Roads Golf Academy holds lessons at four area courses, two of which boast covered and heated ranges to allow for lessons during chilly winters or divot hailstorms.
Sculpted into the rolling hills of Northern Virginia and designed by prolific course architect Dan Maples, South Riding Golf Club’s course plots a challenging path through mature timbers and glassy waters. A fleet of golf carts equipped with GPS technology helps players navigate the 7,148-yard chain of fairways by giving them the distance to upcoming hazards, greens, and blitzing linebackers emerging from the rough. Streams and ponds ripple throughout the course, including on the par-3 13th hole, where golfers are faced with a forced carry over a pond situated between tee and green. The club’s grass-tee driving range, short-game area, practice bunker, and putting green allow players to nurture their relationship with their putter, wedges, irons, woods, or modified soup ladles. When not conquering the course, duffers can take advantage of South Riding's modern clubhouse, fully stocked pro shop, and staff of golf instructors.
PGA instructor Kevin Hamluk tailors golf instruction to the individual swing habits and physical limitations of his students, demonstrating a successful approach that earned him a spot as a finalist in the 2012 Best Young Teacher awards from Golf Digest. Kevin works with his students to develop a dependable swing that fits their bodies and improves their ability to ward off feral flagsticks. Along with providing private lessons on the range, Kevin offers clinics that cover the full-swing, short-game, or putting techniques and online video lessons that involve students sending him videos of their swings for analysis, corrective feedback, and a direct line to casting agents.
Hilltop Golf Club’s 9-hole, par 31 course lets clubbers hack their way through 2,268 yards of elevated Virginia countryside. Architect Lindsay Bruce Ervin modeled aspects of the executive course after traditional Scottish links, populating the course with berms, pot bunkers, and thick fescue grass that whisper Gaelic folk songs into the wind. The course climbs from an elevation of 80 feet to 240 feet, with crests giving way to sweeping vistas of the Potomac River and the Maryland shoreline. Five par 3s make each round a worthy investment for clubbers still seeking their first hole-in-one, while four par 4s allow players to unsheathe their drivers. The Club’s practice facilities include two practice greens—one for chipping and one for putting—and a multi-tiered driving range with 68 hitting bays, many of which are covered and heated to protect swingers from inclement weather or pelicans eating sunflowers overhead.
Course designer Tom Clark of Ault, Clark, & Associates earned Pleasant Valley Golf Club a 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest, whose editors applauded the architect’s creativity in the site’s rolling hills and dense hardwood forest. Clark’s 18-hole brainchild allows players to tee up from one of four tee boxes and test their mettle against the par 72 course, taking care to avoid the water in play on six holes and the grassy meadows that lie outside the fairway borders. Players can bookend their round with a warm-up session on the range and a cooldown at the grill, helped along by a club sandwich, a Gatorade, or a glass of ice water dumped on an overused foot wedge.